Now that Clinton has officially received her offer to serve as Secretary of State, I thought readers might find it interesting to ponder with me how the Left will react. During the Democratic primaries, I found both leading candidates highly attractive. When it became clear that the race would go to the wire, I even favored a "Dream Team," but that never materialized.
The Left Bashed Clinton as a Conservative Hawk
By contrast, my liberal and progressive colleagues (many of whom are other academics) had the utmost disdain for Clinton. While I viewed the two candidates as fairly mainstream or guardedly liberal on most issues, other progressives passionately supported Obama as the most radical choice and dismissed Clinton as a self-interested, conservative (or valueless), inexperienced, racist, demagogue who would govern as a centrist (at best), continue Bush's hawkish foreign policy, and fail to offer any fundamental change in society.
Progressives' disgust with Clinton stemmed, in part, from their lingering dissatisfaction with Bill Clinton's presidency, which they viewed as betraying the Left. Hillary Clinton became a punching bag for Leftist discontent with centrist politics of the Democratic Party. Disclaimer: I (a self-proclaimed progressive) also disagreed with many of President Clinton's compromises with the right. I was 20-something at the time, and I now appreciate the value of compromise much more than I did at the time. Furthermore, and more importantly, I refused to conflate the Clintons and view them as a pathological "Billary," as many liberals shamefully did. That term has an unmistakeably sexist connotation.
Progressive Bloggers Helped Portray Clinton as Bush III
Some of the loudest "progressive" criticism of Hillary Clinton came from popular liberal and progressive blogs. In particular Daily Kos, Huffington Post, and AlterNet (among many others) frequently posted vitriolic essays warning readers of the awful nature of Clinton's politics. Now that Clinton has received the highest position on foreign policy in Obama's Cabinet, I assume that the Left will soon express dismay -- if they actually believed the harsh criticism they lodged against Clinton and the effusive praise they reserved for Obama during the Democratic primaries.
Because people have very short memories, I have posted some material from several liberal and progressive blogs below. As you read them, consider how the writers could possibly reconcile their earlier positions on Clinton and Obama with Obama's decision to make Clinton Secretary of State.
Examples of Progressive Critiques of Clinton from Daily Kos, Huffington Post, and AlterNet
This is a fight for the soul of the Democratic Party. Will it be the party of corporate insiders and the Democratic Leadership Council’s centrist, triangulating approach to politics? Or will it be the party of a new generation shaping the future of the Democratic Party in a progressive direction.
We face a turning point for this country and for the Democratic Party. We have the potential to launch a progressive revolution in America. That’s why we cannot risk everything on a centrist, unpopular candidate, and why progressives must unite behind the only candidate who can defeat Hillary Clinton in the primary race.
Everyone knows that Hillary Clinton has made the completely wrong and incompetent judgements in Foreign Policy, on both Iraq and Iran. Even far worse than any one particular vote, she attached her own credibility to public promotion and parroting of the plainly fraudulent White House talking-points, and a bizarre faith-based loyalty to their bogus intelligence (White House manipulated) -- even after the inconvenient truth was reported both Nationally and Internationally, and revealed before the whole World. . . .
The errors are even larger, and something that is permanent and institutionalized by her own choice of trusted advisors, and that incompetence will never change either now or in the future. You can learn a whole lot about a candidate by who their trusted advisors are.
Both Barack Obama and Hillary have hired advisors that at one time served within the former Clinton administration. Yet, the similarity ends there. . . .
The more I see Hillary Clinton on TV and think about her, the more I realize that she doesn't care in the least bit about the Democratic party. She cares about herself and her husbands legacy and nothing else. Frankly, I am sick of it, and I will be even sicker if she somehow manages to get this nomination. People who are nominated for President by a party have usually worked in the past to show that they actually care about the party, not just themselves. Hillary Clinton has done nothing to show ths [sic]. . . .
A major difference stands out among those they are likely to appoint to key posts in national defense, intelligence, and foreign affairs: Almost everyone in Senator Obama's foreign policy team opposed the U.S. invasion. By contrast, most of Senator Clinton's foreign policy team, which largely comprises veterans of her husband's administration, strongly supported George W. Bush's call for a U.S. invasion of Iraq. . . .
Hillary Clinton has a few advisors who did oppose the war, like Wesley Clark, but taken together, the kinds of key people she's surrounded herself with supports the likelihood that her administration, like Bush's, would be more likely to embrace exaggerated and alarmist reports regarding potential national security threats, to ignore international law and the advice of allies, and to launch offensive wars.
The problem of Clinton's poor instincts on foreign policy is compounded by the hawkish foreign policy advisors she has surrounded herself with, the most important of which are Madeleine Albright, Richard Holbrooke, Lee Feinstein and Sandy Berger.
Hillary's triangulating against Obama is true to form for the Clintons. That's all they ever do: cozy up to the Republicans, cut off the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, and help push along the Republican agenda on trade, welfare, taxes, and corporate power. The Democratic Party has still not recovered from the Clinton failures to stand up to the GOP. Hillary was on the board of directors of Wal-Mart, one of the most anti-labor companies in the world. That's not much different than being CEO of Halliburton.
Now she, in effect, endorsed John McCain over Barack Obama in the 2008 election. It was both a shortsighted attempt at tactical advantage and a snub to Obama stating that he can forget about sharing a ticket with Hillary. How can Hillary ever join a ticket with Obama now that she has ranked him below the GOP's choice? . . . .[I] will vote for Ralph Nader before I'll vote for Hillary Clinton.
Let's face it: No matter how much many of us who oppose the war in Iraq would also love to elect a female president, Hillary Clinton is not a peace candidate. She is an unrepentant hawk, à la Joe Lieberman. She believed invading Iraq was a good idea, all available evidence to the contrary, and she has, once again, made it clear that she still does. . . .
[The record] shows a fondness in Clinton for war and bullying adventurism that vastly overshadows her sensible stances on many domestic issues. As Barry Goldwater supporters stated in kicking off the Republican revolution, what we need is a choice, not an echo.
What in the world was Sen. Hillary Clinton thinking when she attacked Sen. Barack Obama for ruling out the use of nuclear weapons in going after Osama bin Laden? And why aren't her supporters more concerned about yet another egregious example of Clinton's consistent backing for the mindless militarism that is dragging this nation to ruin?
So what that she is pro-choice and a woman if the price of proving her capacity to be commander in chief is that we end up with an American version of Margaret Thatcher?
In July 2002, at the first Senate hearing on Iraq, then-Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Joe Biden pledged his allegiance to Bush's war. Ever since, the blunt-spoken Biden has seized every opportunity to dismiss antiwar critics within his own party, vocally denouncing Bush's handling of the war while doggedly supporting the war effort itself. . . .
The Democrats' speculative front-runner for '08, Hillary Clinton, has offered similarly hawkish rhetoric. Clinton, a member of the Armed Services Committee, appears more comfortable accommodating the President's Iraq policy than opposing it . . . .
Why is [Clinton] even a Democrat? As we all know, Democratic presidents are almost as likely to wage war as Republican. Then what's with her reputation as a liberal?
It's almost as if the cover of arch-liberal with which conservatives have conveniently provided Hillary allows her inner hawk to fly free. . . .Thanks to the efforts of people like Stephen Zunes, more and more of us understand that, with Hillary and her militaristic proclivities, what you see is what you get.
Would you have not paid serious money to watch the Anointed One's composure disintegrate before your very eyes as the ground receded from beneath her feet? Can you imagine her sheer fury at having sold-out everything and everyone to be president, only to be left holding the bag, her butt good and well kicked by a funny-named nobody from nowhere? . . . Could you have hoped even in your wildest dreams that Bad Bill's true colors would finally be exposed to his idiotic supporters who never saw him for the Republican he always was? . . . .
The public is ready for a turn to the left, and Obama wants to give it them. Young people have abandoned the GOP in droves. As importantly, conservative policies and politics have been discredited for a generation or more, especially if some Democrat could unplug their brain from life-support long enough to just say so. Obama is saying so.